That year in social – 2021

Mar 29th, 2022

We have taken a look at some of the biggest updates throughout the year of 2021, and how social channels are pushing features on their networks to ensure more creativity in social media marketing…

Instagram introduces the “professional dashboard”

It seems like Instagram have finally got to grips with the increase in businesses turning to the social channel for their marketing efforts. Their latest update is the “professional dashboard”, a hub for businesses and creators with a professional/business account to get more advice and tips from Instagram on how best to use the platform.

The new dashboard, which is available at the top of your profile when on the mobile app, has been created to help you make better decisions and stay informed about everything Instagram wants you to know, such as new updates. It consists of three features – discover insights on your performance, tools to help grow your business and a bunch of educational resources to read and improve your knowledge. Pretty handy right? It comes off the back of 82 million accounts visiting the previous hub which was being tested, so be sure to check it out.

Take control of your LinkedIn comments

The latest update from LinkedIn is one businesses can use to fight the increase in bullying and spam on the social channel. The new update now allows you to take control of your LinkedIn comments when you publish new content, meaning you can now restrict certain accounts from commenting, everyone as a whole and also curate your own feed.

The three updates from LinkedIn regarding this are – restricting audiences from individual posts (target just connections or those who have RSVP’d to an event for example), restricting just the comments (so people can still see the post) or curating your own feed on the channel so you don’t have to see all the posts from connections you don’t want to see.

This update is currently for personal profiles, but expect to see if for business pages in the future too.

Dedicated pages for hashtags on YouTube

This is along the lines of something we have previously reported on, with YouTube pushing its discovery pages, allowing for people to find more content than ever before. The latest update is the next step to this.

YouTube is finally creating dedicated pages for hashtags, allowing you to follow and discover content based on the hashtags you are most interested in, pretty similar to most other social channels, so we feel this is a bit late, but still handy.
To find these hashtags pages, if you are watching a video on the channel, click on the hashtag to then see a full page of every video on YouTube that has also used the hashtag. This is great for consumers and audiences who are watching the videos and want to see similar content, but it is also useful for businesses too, meaning there are more opportunities for your videos to be watched and discovered if you optimise them properly with hashtags when you upload.

Clubhouse App continues to rise

It started to make waves through January, where more and more people who have been given an invitation started to head on over to Clubhouse App to see what all the fuss is about. The social networking app is focused around drop-in chats and has already become popular with individuals wanting to learn more from industry experts in fields such as marketing, cryptocurrency, mindfulness and business ventures.

Well, in February, it surpassed 10 million downloads and is still technically in the Beta testing stages, with only those who have been given an invitation from an already member able to take part, so we expect to see this grow further.

Twitter is testing ‘Spaces’ and ‘Super follow’

Of course, with everything in the social media world, it is only a matter of time before the big-hitters start to take ideas from others and build it for their own platforms. This is what Twitter is testing with ‘Spaces’, it’s own version of the Clubhouse App in the Twitter platform itself, and ‘Super follow’ which lets users charge followers for exclusive regular content, similar to Patreon and Substack.

Starting with ‘Spaces’, this will allow Twitter users to create a public space which you can then invite up to 10 accounts to attend. Once inside, you can share thoughts, emojis and a lot more. You can then decide who has speaking privileges and who is just there to listen, creating a space to share ideas and thoughts without having to type it all out.

‘Super follow’ is being introduced so people can follow your account, but gain access to content that is not available on your usual timeline, similar to a newsletter. This could be a great option for industry leaders who use their normal timeline to entice people in, then their ‘super follow’ timeline to give content, advice and ideas that are worth the subscription. Keep an eye out for these becoming part of your normal Twitter experience.

‘Stories’ now on LinkedIn company pages

LinkedIn introduced ‘Stories’ to its channel towards the back end of last year, allowing personal profiles to create stories that are featured at the top of timelines when visiting on a mobile device, finally catching up to some of the other social channels with this feature. Well, it is now available to company pages too.

The offering gives companies the ability to create content in the Stories format. This content could include anything like “timely information, thought leadership, and behind-the-scenes content,” just like on other platforms so far. The one big difference that could become very useful to page admins is the “swipe up” ability, meaning you can direct people to any URL through your story, which could be great for directing people to a service, a new blog post or a place to purchase/sign up for tickets to any of your events and exhibitions.

Facebook and Instagram combine for cross-app messaging

It is no secret that Facebook continues to ensure the two apps are working more closely than ever, with the ability to automatically share content across both, but now it has also combined its direct messaging features.

What this means is that you can search for and message, video chat, or reshare posts with people across Instagram and Facebook. You can however still choose who messages you, with the settings being updated to ensure you have full control over your messaging.

To decide where you receive message requests and who can contact you, head to Message Delivery Settings on Facebook. However, your Active Status, when enabled, now works across Facebook and Instagram, so people on either platform can know when you are online.

Watch YouTube videos directly through Twitter

Twitter has been trying for ages to master the video game and we thought it had done it when they introduced embedded videos directly a few years ago. They have played around with the length of videos possible, giving those using promoted tweets more leeway when it comes to timings, but now it seems to have finally worked with YouTube instead.

Of course people are already sharing YouTube videos on the platform, but when it comes to watching the video you are sent away to the website to watch in full. They are now testing out the option to embed a YouTube video on your tweet and to watch it whilst staying on Twitter instead, when viewing it on mobile, mainly iOS. Currently in the testing stage so expect to see this fully soon.

Save your Instagram Stories as drafts

This is definitely something many users have been asking for since the introduction of Stories, as you can pretty much do it on everything else, but soon all Instagram users can save their stories as drafts to edit or upload at a later date.

You can even manage multiple drafts of your creations so you could be out and about creating your story of your day, and then settle down and edit them all properly when you are home. This should see an increase in creativity when it comes to business and individuals uploading content to their Stories, as we often see rushed content do to social managers needing to upload at that given time. It also means you don’t lose your GIFs, tags and stickers you might have added to your content.

Instagram Lite is making a comeback on Android

Instagram Lite was launched back in 2018 before it was pulled on the Play Store last year. It looks like it is about to make a comeback as Instagram have announced this month, and it’s returning with Reels too.

The app, which is 28 megabytes less than the main app in memory size and is being launched in 170 countries. In the new version, users will be able to send direct messages, record and post videos, and support the ability to watch Instagram’s latest big feature ‘Reels”, although you won’t be able to create them on there, and shopping is a no-go too. Still great for those who want to save space on their handheld device without missing out on the main parts of the app.

Could 2021 be the year of short videos?

We know short videos have been around for quite a while now, through the likes of TikTok and Instagram Reels, but this year feels like it could be the year for them. Both YouTube and Netflix have announced updates on their ventures into short videos this month.

First YouTube, this was announced quite a while ago, but in March, YouTube brought the beta version of shorts to the US, following a successful trial in India, meaning it could be well on its way to us in the UK before we know it. It allows users to create a videos through a multi-segment camera that lets them string multiple video clips together, record videos with music and control video speed settings to rival TikTok.

Netflix have also jumped on the bandwagon, bringing its ‘Fast Laughs’ feature to iOS. Again, this is to rival TikTok, but it allows users to watch and share short clips of Netflix shows one after the other, including its whole range of stand up comedy. Pretty cool right?

Professional profiles coming to Twitter

There is a new form of profile coming to Twitter soon, welcoming Twitter Professional Profiles, which are set to allow businesses to display more of their information on their profile.

This is something we personally feel the social channel has been missing in comparison to the others. Many businesses have a Twitter profile to help with their marketing efforts, but unlike Facebook and Instagram, it never really had that professional feeling to it, meaning businesses just had to share all the features a personal profile would have.

These new professional profiles are currently being tested in the US, but from first look it seems they will allow businesses to add their address with a map, website and more options when updating the bio itself, along with buttons to directly contact the business and to get directions. It is expected they will be verified too, along with a business badge making it easier for users to instantly understand more about the business when viewing their profile. Keep an eye out for this one when it arrives in the UK.

Facebook jumps into audio with new features

Audio chat is the current trend at the moment and it looks like it is set to continue. We already know most social channels are jumping on board and testing new features but this month it was the turn of Facebook, with new features, tools and monetisation options for audio.

The first of these updates is their audio creation tools, which will give users access to a “sound studio in your pocket”, with powerful functionality meaning users don’t have to buy expensive hardware or software. The second is Soundbites, which are short form, creative audio clips users can create, with testing set to commence in the next few months.

Next, is one that seems a bit slow coming for Facebook, is that they are finally bringing Podcasts to the social channel. There are over 35 million people who have joined podcast-related groups on Facebook, but to actually listen to them you have to be directed away to other sites, which Facebook does not want to happen. Finally, live audio-rooms are coming to the social network, through the site and through messenger, which as we all know is the main rival to Clubhouse.

Have more control over your comments and DMs

This is one for the users of Instagram and Facebook, with both announcing new updates in April so you can have more control over who is messaging you and who is commenting.

On Instagram, they have released a new AI tool, which can automatically filter out DMs containing offensive words, phrases, and Emojis. The new tool is part of Instagram’s continuous efforts to combat hate speech on its platform, following on from previous months where they announced the company has started to disable accounts that sent multiple harassing messages
On Facebook, there is a new feature that lets you control who can comment on your posts when shared in the public News Feed. Previously, you’ve only been able to define your posts’ privacy, but now you can have more control over your commenting audience, which is welcoming news for many we are sure.

The end of cropped images in Twitter and WhatsApp

Looks like we’ve had two wishes come at once this month, with both Twitter and WhatsApp updating their platforms to ensure when you attach an image (or video too for WhatsApp) to your post, it now won’t crop when viewing on the mobile apps.

This is great news, particularly on Twitter, where social media marketers are often left wondering which part of the image Twitter will choose to show instantly on people’s timelines, and which part will be hidden until clicked on. Worry no more, as it will now show the full image instantly, allowing you to be more creative with your portrait orientation imagery and more chance to get your message across with text overlay.

New insights tools for Instagram Reels and Live

Ever since Instagram introduced Reels and Instagram Live last year, it has been the request of many businesses and marketers to get more control over the insights, allowing you to learn what has been successful and to produce content of a similar nature in the future.

Well, looks like our requests have finally been taken on board, as new insights tools are coming. Currently being rolled out, so not everyone will have it yet, but the insights will allow you to see how many accounts your content was shown to (including a breakdown of followers and non-followers), how many plays it got, likes, comments, shares, saves and for Instagram Live you get to see what the peak audience was. Pretty handy right? We’re looking forward to this one.

Business profiles on Snapchat, will you join?

Snapchat is the social media platform we probably feature the least on these monthly round-ups, and that is due to it being the most difficult to master from a business point of view. However, in May, they announced that they are introducing business profiles to help brands run their organic presence on there. So what does it involve?

The new Public Profiles for Businesses will give brands the ability to place their organic Snapchat content in one “discoverable place” and connect with their customers “by highlighting useful and engaging content, showcase existing Lens AR Experiences, and share shoppable products directly within the Snapchat app.” Other users can subscribe to Profiles to stay up-to-date with new content, product launches, and more.

Businesses will also get several other benefits as well, such as management tools through the Business Manager (available on the web and mobile) that let team members collaborate, manage branded content, and analyse data insights.

It is now easier to boost your LinkedIn organic posts

LinkedIn has announced the roll out of organic post boosting on its platform, allowing marketers to reach new audiences easier than ever before. Similar to how we see it on other social channels, your organic posts will begin to have a “boost” button in the top right corner.

You can also do the same for events, so if you see one of your posts working well organically, this option is good for those who want to give it a further push and turn it into a paid advertising campaign. We feel this is something that LinkedIn has definitely been missing, and is a feature growing in popularity on other channels, making paid social more accessible and easier for businesses and page managers.

Link stickers on Instagram stories soon

Something all small-business owners and their social media marketers have been begging for for a while now, the ability to include a link in your Instagram story posts without having the current threshold of 10,000 followers to include a “swipe up” link.

It looks like the social media channel, which this week announced it is officially no longer just a “photo-sharing” app, is soon testing and giving users the option to add a link sticker to their story posts, in the same way you would include a poll or question sticker. This could be a game changer when promoting your products in a creative way, allowing people to directly find and purchase the product you are promoting. Still no links in timeline posts though obviously.

Post images and videos to Instagram via desktop

Looks like Instagram has really been listening to social media marketers recently, with this second update too. This month it was announced that they started testing the ability to post videos and images to your Instagram account through desktop, rather than sending your files over to mobile to publish there instead.

Of course, social media management platforms like Hootsuite have been doing this for a while, but for Instagram to start doing it too allows for smaller businesses and brands to get involved on a cheaper and easier scale. They have started testing this out with a small number of users but expect to see this for everyone very soon, as the social platform starts to notice the adaption to how people use it’s platform.

TikTok introduces “Jump”, a new way to share content

This month, TikTok announced a new way to share content through embedded mini-programs and services in their videos, built by third-party providers. What does this mean then? Viewers can interact with Jumps by clicking on them to explore a range of content, take quizzes, learn, and do a lot more.

The entire process doesn’t involve users leaving the platform or the video they were watching so interacting with this new element doesn’t take you away from your hours of scrolling, allowing for those uploading to increase engagement. TikTok is also opening up the possibility for developers to create and deploy their own customised content using HTML5, making it a lot easier to build and deploy Jumps.

Facebook finally launched its live audio-rooms feature

This is something we have been talking about for a while now, but the month of June was the month it has finally been launched, to compete with Clubhouse, which gained popularity over lockdown, and Twitter’s version called Spaces.

Facebook now allows public figures and a select few Facebook Groups in the US to create Live Audio Rooms on iOS. Within the next few weeks, the feature will expand to more public figures and Groups, allowing them to host Live Audio Rooms, with the plan to eventually roll this out for everyone. So even though you might not be able to create any yourself yet, you’ll still be able to listen in on those from public figures you enjoy and follow.

They have also announced they will be adding more features very soon to those that have already been created. At the moment, each of these rooms can have 50 speakers, and an unlimited number of listeners, so it will be interesting to see what further ideas they have up their sleeves for this.

Free resources from TikTok for businesses

TikTok is the gift that keeps on giving. With the social media app continuing to grow in popularity amongst consumers and businesses alike, they are beginning to realise the opportunities the app can bring to promoting to a whole new audience.

To go with this increase in usage, this month TikTok has provided a whole load of free resources with guidance for businesses on using their features. What does it include? Well, the guides recommend getting rid of your big budget videography with community and creativity the key here, utilising their in-app effects. They also recommend keeping your ads immersive, including 9:16 ratio, sound on at all times and a shorter length.

You can download the main TikTok guide for businesses here.

Microsoft-powered native video meetings for LinkedIn

This month, LinkedIn started rolling out a new video meetings feature on the social channel, which means you can now set up and interact in video meetings within the channel itself, without having to download a third-party app, which was previously needed.

Powered by Microsoft, users can find the “Create Video Meeting” option within their LinkedIn chat window. It also means users can now have easy access to an integrated calendar, where scheduled meetings will automatically send an email to attendees with a link to take part. For those who want a bit of creativity, you can also share screens and add backgrounds to your video chat.

TikTok teams up with Vimeo and Canva to make creating ads easier

This is a brilliant collaboration for small businesses, with smaller budgets who want to target their TikTok target audience. The social app has now teamed up with Canva and Vimeo, which are using AI technology to create adverts for your brand in the platform’s Ads Manager.

If you use “Vimeo Create”, you can now create an engaging advert within minutes. It will offer optimised video templates that are specifically designed for TikTok.

The Canva feature on the other hand, offers a library of templates for businesses to choose from when creating their ads. It also introduces a new Publish End Points tool, designed to bring ease and simplicity for creators to natively publish directly to TikTok.

Twitter removes Fleets and focuses more on Spaces

It looks like Fleets has already been removed from Twitter after its short stint. It turns out people weren’t using them as much as they were expecting, so you’ll now notice on the mobile app they have been removed from the top. We reported that Spaces had become a thing quite a while ago, which now takes the spaces at the top of the app.

Well, they have continued to improve the Spaces feature, which allows you to host an audio-room to your followers. They began by introducing the ability to include a co-host on your audio-room, but have now added more. A host can now add 2 co-hosts instead of 1, and the top table in a room can now also have 10 additional speakers.

Having an extra pair of hands to help manage the administrative tasks during a live chat, especially one that involves a big number of attendees, will be a massive help with less interruptions to the conversation.

New feature for local businesses on Whatsapp

Whatsapp has continued to increase its features for businesses recently, after becoming a go-to personal app for consumers to liaise with brands in recent times. Their newest feature, which is currently in testing, will be great for local businesses in particular.

The company is testing a new business directory feature that will let users find and search for businesses that are on the app, within the app. It will sort the businesses in order of “businesses nearby” from your location tracking services on mobile.

The messaging service, owned by Facebook, has been a major increase in popularity for business accounts with business accounts reaching 175 million daily users globally.

Twitter “Communities” is here to stay

This month, Twitter has launched “Communities” which is their future to compete with Facebook Groups and Reddit, allowing users of the platform to connect with other users who publish content of a certain subject.

The feature has people tweeting directly to those who would be interested in it rather than to Twitter as a whole. To kick things off, they have released communities like #DogTwitter, #SkincareTwitter and #SoleFood (for fans of footwear).

Communities will also be administered each by their own moderator, much like it is with groups on Facebook and on Reddit’s subreddits. Moderators have the authority to set community rules, as well as to invite or remove people.

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions has announced new features

LinkedIn has announced new features this month designed to help marketers navigate the new working world. Those features aim to build greater connections with their communities.

The first feature is “articles for pages”, which is a new tool that allows creators to publish articles on their LinkedIn pages and engage members with professional content on the platform itself.

The second is “LinkedIn live events.” This new feature will join strengths with the reach and engagement of LinkedIn’s native live-streaming tool, and with the planning and targeting options on LinkedIn Events. The result is a new all-in-one simplified experience that enables creators to live-stream an event.

Twitter testing reactions and automated bot labels

There are two new features that Twitter is testing throughout the month, which we may well be seeing soon for future strategies.

The first of these features is reactions, which we are no stranger to due to them being available on LinkedIn and Facebook for quite some time. These emoji reactions will replace the current “like” one and allow users to react to tweets with things like “tears of joy”, “laughing” and “sad”, along with hearts. This one is in advanced resting so could be seen soon.

The second feature is that Twitter is going to start labeling accounts that are automated bots so everyone will be able to see which ones are. Of course there are a lot of spammy bots on Twitter, but there are also some useful ones too, so at least we will know. This gives people a better understanding of what accounts they are reading or interacting with.

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